Athens, Ga. – Pollen counts have been high this spring, and those who suffer from seasonal allergies will see little relief in the coming days, according to Pam Knox, an agricultural climatologist at the University of Georgia. Below, she shares some of her thoughts on the current season as well as tips to minimize exposure to pollen.
How bad is this pollen season compared with previous seasons?
“Friday, April 5 was the highest pollen count in Atlanta in six years. It has come down somewhat from then but is still considered high. This year the pollen started out earlier than usual, with some pollen being recorded in January, but the bulk of the pollen has been a little later than the past three years, probably due to the cooler winter.”
Are there any indications of how long pollen will linger or if we’ll catch a break?
“Pollen forecasts for the next five days are for high pollen levels to continue. They tend to drop after rain, especially if we get quite a bit of it, so after this weekend’s frontal passage we may see some relief. But with so many things blooming it’s not going away any time soon, the mix of species will just change.”
Are there areas of Georgia where things might be worse?
“Generally, down south they start blooming earlier than we do, so they were worse earlier. They have been pretty dry for the last month, so there has been nothing to wash it out of the atmosphere, which probably does not help.”
Do you have any tips for allergy sufferers, especially how they might minimize their exposure to potential irritants?
“In advance of the season, you can get shots to help your body adapt to the exposure to pollen. Once it starts, you need to try to minimize your exposure by keeping doors and windows closed, taking off shoes and jackets at the door to your house, making sure outdoor pets like dogs do not bring in too much pollen. I am sure a good air filter also helps.”
More about Pam Knox
Pam Knox is an agricultural climatologist for the University of Georgia in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, which is part of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. In that position she provides outreach and education on climate and its effects on crops and livestock in the Southeastern U.S. She also provides weather and climate data and analyses to university scientists and user groups across the region.
In the past, Pam has also worked as the Georgia Assistant State Climatologist, the Wisconsin State Climatologist and in the National Weather Service. She also previously served as President of the American Association of State Climatologists and on the American Meteorological Society’s Board of Applied Climatology and Board of Continuing Professional Development. She now serves on the technical advisory boards for the Southeast Regional Climate Center (NOAA) and the Southeast Regional Climate Hub (USDA).